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January 9, 2006

Visa Check Card TV Commercial Mystery


Work with me a little here.

Yesterday I was watching a wild–card playoff game (Carolina v New York) when a Visa check card commercial comes on for what must be the hundredth time this past month.

OK, we're used to seeing the same old same old commercials ad nauseam, no biggie.

Since I rarely hear them 'cause I mute the TV during commercials it's not as if I'm gonna notice anything new after all this time.

But for some reason I was busy doing something that precluded getting to the mute button (speaking of which, is there any reason why TVs don't have primitive voice–activated controls for a very limited vocab, say, four words — on, off, mute, sound — so that you don't have to fool around with the remote all the time?) so I happened to hear the commercial's dialogue.

It's a coach (above) and his comely blonde snowboard team member (below) as she prepares for a crucial run.

She's down on herself and having a terrible day and the coach is trying to get her psyched.

Come on, you can beat them, he says.

She shakes her head no, defeated before she even starts.

Imagine you're alone on the mountain, he offers.

No dice.

Picture yourself on the medal stand, he says.

Shakes her head no.


The coach thinks for a minute, then espies the Visa patch on her jacket.

OK, he says, imagine that someone just stole your Visa check card.

All of a sudden the girl looks at him, smiles, nods, and there it is: the eye of the tiger.

But now comes the part I don't get.

As she slides over to start the race, the voice–over announcer says something like, "You don't have to worry if something happens to your Visa check card. If it's lost or stolen, Visa has you covered."

Well, here's my question (took long enough, didn't it?): If she's covered against any losses should someone steal her Visa check card, then why does the coach's having her imagine it stolen suddenly motivate her?

I mean, who cares if it's stolen? is what the commercial's telling us.

Do they mean for us to think that the snowboarder and her coach are the only two people on the planet who don't know it doesn't matter?

Gimme a break.

The only reason I can conceive of as to why this commercial exists is that the ad agency and Visa figured people would just look at the pretty outdoor scenery, the snow and mountains and all and the eye candy babe, and not listen very hard to the coach's spiel.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Am I missing something here?

And while I'm on the subject, am I the only person who watches the incessant parade of commercials being repeated several times an hour — sometimes the very same one twice in a single commercial break — who thinks that the whole existing model of TV advertising is broken beyond repair, bankrupt and increasingly useless at selling anything?

With the internet creating the ability to choose, people are less and less inclined to take the "cram–down" of what companies put up on the screen.


The ones who figure this out sooner rather than later will be the ones still around in 2010.

And before you start to rag on me for the poor quality of the included photographs, which I took while on the treadmill and watching the game and preparing this post, maybe you need to take a second and consider that the fact I was even able to get these crummy pix at all, in the midst of the three–ring circus going on around here, was not a trivial accomplishment.


January 9, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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i really like the commercial were they have this assembly line restaurant thing going. Everything is going smoothly until one customer decides to use cash to pay for his food instead of his visa check card as if he even had one but the flip flob is his total was $5.25 he pulls out 3or4 one's and she hands him back a $1 dollar bill and some change now that doesn't add up.i like the commercial but the punch line is all wrong i really think whoever came up w/that did a piss poor job of making sure that that commercial went smoothly or they thought noone would catch it. I look at everything.

Posted by: tonya | Jan 14, 2007 1:41:26 PM

HELLO! Did anyone actually watch the commercial? When the gun shoots, the girl doesn't move. She stands on top of the mountain and doesn't even go. The racing is amoung other people, she doesn't race. That's the point

Posted by: Jamie | Feb 4, 2006 6:34:02 PM

It's Lindsey Jacobellis - US Ski/Snowboarding team... I'm pretty sure.

Posted by: Elliott | Jan 27, 2006 5:35:21 PM

Anyone know who the girl is?

Posted by: chris | Jan 24, 2006 7:14:33 AM

yeah, ive gotten so very fed up with television commercials that the majority of the shows i watch are either on my computer or on dvd. i even find myself attempting to pause my tv like i would with my dvd player. maybe i should try tivo...
either way, my favorite kind of show, anime (a very misjudged genre), is almost never on tv and is easier to find online or at amazon.com.
and i like Red's point that everytime someone on tv said "off" it would turn itself off. this would make a hilarious prank to pull on someones tv!

Posted by: scott | Jan 9, 2006 7:11:03 PM

Those dam car and truck commercials sure seems to work selling overpriced gas guzzlers, of course they sure do beat you over the head with them. I like the mute on off voice activation suggestion. Maybe when we get the digital reception this will be a feature?

Posted by: Richard | Jan 9, 2006 4:09:14 PM

My guess: They made their point - she feels so strongly about the Visa card she gets fired up just thinking about the Visa card being stolen. As a viewer, they hope that you immediately think, "How would I feel if my Visa card got stolen?" While you're thinking that in your head (hopefully), they say, "No worries, mate. If your card gets stolen, you're just fine."

I agree that it's clunky but don't think it's as bad as you do. But then again I've never seen the commercial.

In their defense, there's all kinds of things that can be taken away from you that are covered by insurance and you are protected - but it would still piss you off if someone took it. Think car, house, etc.

And the commercial has to be better than the Visa five layers of protection commercial that irritates the hell out of me. Admittedly, I was already irritated when I saw it for the first time in September, since the Saints were losing (embarrassingly) to the Vikings.

I have to physically change the channel whent that commercial comes on. The mute button just isn't enough.

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Jan 9, 2006 1:56:02 PM

"speaking of which, is there any reason why TVs don't have primitive voice–activated controls for a very limited vocab, say, four words — on, off, mute, sound — so that you don't have to fool around with the remote all the time?)"

Um - cuz every time someone on tv says the word "Off", the tv would turn off?

Posted by: Red | Jan 9, 2006 1:47:25 PM

riddle me this "take one day at a time"
ooookay-has one ever tried to take two days at a time?

Posted by: mbpmbp2 | Jan 9, 2006 1:37:34 PM

I think you answered your own question here. The skier is at the start of her run and she's letting all sorts of things worry and distract her. Since "you never have any worries if your VISA checkcard is stolen" (or something like that) she can clear her head of worries/distractions by imagining that her Visa card has been stolen. She does, has no worries, clears her head and wins the race. I should get one of those miracle cards myself, too bad I don't ski.

Posted by: Brian | Jan 9, 2006 12:21:25 PM

I think the coach was trying to get the girl to relax into the groove.

Posted by: Mark Schambach | Jan 9, 2006 12:17:17 PM

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